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The 4 types of cleaning solutions; detergents, degreasers, acids, and abrasives

When it comes to cleaning, it’s important to know which is the right cleaning solution for the job. To do that, you first need to know what the four main types of cleaning solutions are, and that’s exactly what we’re discussing in this latest blog post. While there are many different cleaning products on the market, from a wealth of different brands, all cleaning solutions essentially fall into one of four main groups: detergents, degreasers, acids, and abrasives.

Detergents: what are they are where can you use them?

Detergents are man made cleaning solutions and they require liquid, most commonly water, in order to work. They are surfactants that lower the surface tension of the water, basically making the water “wetter” so that it’s more likely to interact with oil and grease. They do require either mechanical energy or agitation to pull the grime away once the detergent has bound with the oil or grease. For commercial or industrial cleaning projects, our range of floor cleaning equipment is designed with different brush and cleaning heads to provide this agitation when used with our detergents.

Detergents are great for emulsifying oils (allowing water and oils to mix), holding dirt in suspension, and given the liquid element, using as wetting agents. They are very versatile cleaning products than come in either gel, liquid, powder, or occasionally crystal form but be warned, there are some areas where a detergent might not be the best cleaning solution for the job. They should not be used on surfaces like hardwood flooring, mirrored surfaces or natural surfaces like silk and leather. At Fleetclean we offer a tried and tested range of detergents ideal for removing traffic film through our high pressure cleaners, including our Fleetclean 3000 and 4000 TFR Detergent.

Degreasers: what are they and where can you use them?

Degreasers are the perfect choice for removing organic matter like fats, oils, and proteins. That’s why many kitchen cleaning products are often sold as degreasers. Typically, degreasers have a higher PH or in other words they are more alkaline, like our Fleetclean Ultrascrub, allowing them to effectively cut through these types of stain. They are also great for cleaning surfaces without the risk of causing fading or etching.

Our Fleetclean power scrub is a degreaser based on natural citrus oils and blended with low foam detergents. It is designed for use in our range of floor scrubbing machines and it is the perfect choice for safely and effectively cleaning marble, terrazzo, concrete and tiled floors.

Acids: what are they and where can you use them?

An acid is a cleaning solution that has a PH of six or lower and they can range from relatively mild, to very strong. Acids are great for breaking down things like rust, mineral deposits, and certain types of mould. While mild acids can be used in a wide range of cleaning environments, stronger acidic cleaners should be used with caution and of course the right protective clothing and equipment. Acids can also cause damage to the surface being cleaned if they’re not used correctly, so it is vital to read the instructions before using any type of acidic cleaner to avoid mistakes.

Abrasives: what are they and where can you use them?

Whilst we are all familiar with abrasive cleaning agents like cream cleaners in our home environments, when it comes to commercial and industrial applications the abrasive element will usually be introduced to the job in a physical way via the machinery being used. For example, our range of scrubbing machines can be fitted with various different types of brushes or abrasive pads. These can also be fitted to high-speed burnishers to remove the top of, say, marble flooring, prior to repolishing.

Another accepted method of wet abrasive cleaning is the introduction of silica sand to the high-pressure water stream from a pressure washer using a sandblasting attachment. More specialised equipment can see the introduction of ice being used as the abrasive element where a more standard approach cannot be employed.

Please remember, it is very important to handle any cleaning agents carefully and safely. Exposure to some cleaning chemicals can lead to things like skin irritations so always ensure you follow any instructions on the label, wear the right protective clothing and if in doubt, speak to cleaning experts like us here at Fleetclean.

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